Knee pain is an extremely common complaint, and there are many causes. It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be directed at the cause. If you have knee pain, some common causes include:
- Arthritis is among the most common causes of knee pain, and there are many treatments available.
- Ligament injuries commonly occur during athletic activities and can cause discomfort and instability.
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury
- Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Injury
- Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury
- Cartilage Injuries/Meniscal tears are seen in young and old patients alike, and are also an extremely common cause of knee pain.
- Patellar Tendonitis around the joint is most commonly of the patellar tendon, the large tendon over the front of the knee.
- Chondromalacia Patella causes knee pain under the kneecap and is due to softening of the cartilage. It is most common in younger patients (15-35 years old).
- A dislocating kneecap causes acute symptoms during the dislocation, but can also lead to chronic knee pain.
- A Baker’s cyst is swelling in the back of the joint, and is usually a sign of another underlying problem such as a meniscus tear.
- Bursitis: The most common bursa affected around the joint is just above the kneecap. This is most common in people who kneel for work, such as gardeners or carpetlayers.
- Plica syndrome is an uncommon cause of knee pain, and can be difficult to diagnose. The diagnosis is usually made at the time of arthroscopy.
- Osgood-Schlatter disease is a condition seen in adolescents and is due to irritation of the growth plate just at the front of the joint.
- Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) is another condition seen in adolescents due to the growth of the bone around the joint.
- Gout is an uncommon cause of knee pain. However, in patients who have a diagnosis of gout, it must be considered as a cause for new onset knee pain.
When do you need to call your doctor about your knee pain?
If you are unsure of the cause of your symptoms, or if you do not know the specific treatment recommendations for your condition, you should seek medical attention. Treatment of knee pain must be directed at the specific cause of your problem. Some signs that you should be seen by a doctor include:
- Inability to walk comfortably on the affected side
- Injury that causes deformity around the joint
- Knee pain that occurs at night or while resting
- Knee pain that persists beyond a few days
- Locking (inability to bend) the knee
- Swelling of the joint or the calf area
- Signs of an infection, including fever, redness, warmth